It is interesting to find so many writeups in this node mentioning "stupidity", and yet missing the whole point of daytime running lights. If you don't know the reason for daytime running lights, then you should have them installed in your car right away! Only ShadowNode seems qualified to make a judgment as to whether lights are needed or not. Apparently, one cannot stress enough that daytime running lights 
  • is for other cars
  • can be turned OFF 

Countries in Europe that have laws for daytime running lights show a much lower figure for head-on collisions during daytime than countries that don't. 

When it comes to the United States, one only has to watch a short time of daytime television talk shows and "peoples courts" such as Judge Matis or Jerry Springer to realize that there is vast amounts of people not intellectually capable of driving safely by their own means. This also corresponds to actual observations when driving around some, don't you agree ? 

Key factors to safe driving are, according to a internationally acknowledged Swedish/Norwegian study, in order of importance  

  • Attitude - Psychological tests show a high correlation between a high-risk lifestyle and accidents. High-risk lifestyle includes risky social behavior of any kind including breaking rules and laws other than those associated to driving. This category is over represented by men under 30 years of age. Most are men in 18-25, seeking not only excitement and action, but also respect from friends. Men under 30 are very overly represented in accident statistics, yet they rate themselves among the highest when asked about their own abilities as drivers. Accidents in this group are more often blamed on outer circumstances. Also, the people in this group is less likely to learn by mistakes and a history of accidents does not make the driver more careful. This fit well into the psychological profile of this group. Most members in this group also said that they drive emotionally and very often get upset with how others drive.
  • Driving speed - Too high speed is not only the cause of many accidents, it is also the cause of most lethal accidents. The chance of serious or lethal injury increases exponentially with speed.
  • Outer conditions - The condition of the car, the road, the weather and the driver. Bad tires, slippery roads, snow haze and intake of alcohol seriously impair the ability of the driver to drive safely.
  • Driver skill - Some drivers are not equipped to handle a car under certain conditions and some does not handle stress very well. About 2/3 of all drivers think if themselves as being "better than average" drivers and 1/4 consider themselves to be "average". This leaves only 1/12 being "worse than average"...
The argument that Daytime Running Lights, (DRL's), are an attempt by car manufacturers at patronising the average car driver is, quite frankly, flatulent. The fact that is that the "average" driver on the road demonstrates time after time that they do not consider other road users to the extent that safety and common sense dictate.

For example: car fog lamps: Why do most cars, (in the US, at least), only have fog lights fitted at the front of the vehicle, (if at all)? The reason is that they are more for aesthetic effect rather than road safety. Most drivers run with fog lights on at night, irrespective of weather conditions. Why is that?

Why do some people continue to drive at high speeds when there's fog on the road and visibility is low?

Surely a large factor here is: most people don't think.

Here's the flip-side from a motorcyclist's point of view: Daytime Running Lights on cars are a bad thing, because they reduce the impact of the motorcycle's DRL's.

It seems that there's a certain type of person who have an in-built reaction to anything which can be construed as impinging on their civil liberties. The same type of reaction is provoked by things such as seat belt laws and legislation regarding motorcycle helmets. The bottom line with Daytime Running Lights is that when your freedom of choice impacts other road users' safety, then it's not really your right, is it?

I have personally found the daytime running lights to be more of a liability than a help. When driving on the empty desert roads i tend to drive on a lot, you do spend a lot of time passing slower cars, and are forced into the oncoming traffic lane. I have found that it is impossible to judge the distance of cars with these lights when they are approaching. For the same reason, I don't understand why people turn on their lights in areas which have a lot of passing going on... its very difficult to tell how far the little dots of light are from you. Ideally, you shouldnt pass if you can see a car there at all, but alas the world doesnt work that way.

Daytime running lights (DRLs) are required by law in Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Sweden and Norway. Any other countries that require them I'm not aware of. They are fitted as standard to many other manufacturers' cars, such as Audi and GM.

As a result, and contrary to what bigmouth_strikes is saying, they *cannot* always be turned off, as to do so would be illegal. In Canada, my parents owned a Toyota Camry with DRLs and they could not be switched off. Here in Wales, I own a Volvo 440 and it cannot have its DRLs switched off either - at least, not without going under the hood with a screwdriver.

Much of this node seems more concerned with people being idiots (and not just when it comes to driving) than the actual function or benefits of DRLs. For one thing, they shouldn't be as intense as normal 'dipped' headlights. I'd say my 440's DRLs are roughly half as bright.

A definite benefit of the lights is that they make it clear whether the car is running or not... someone might be parked awkwardly and sitting in their car, but if their DRLs are on, that gives you advance warning that the engine is almost certainly running and that they could move at any moment.

You know when you're out driving in the evening, and someone in a dark-coloured car goes past and you barely saw them because they've not switched their headlights on yet? DRLs remove that danger, providing crucial visiblity to cars in motion during any reduced-visiblity situation such as rain, spray, sunrise/sunset.

Not all cars have them fitted - when I drive a car without the running lights, I switch the parking lights on to compensate. DRLs also result in a dirtier car, as insects can be drawn to their glow and get splatted. Finally, they are a small extra drain on the battery, although some cars are configured to not switch the lights on until 10 seconds after the engine is started.

DRLs make for safer motoring for everyone, like it or not, be you inconsiderate or careful on the road. The Australian RAC took part in a study in which 80 vehicles from a nursing association were fitted with DRLs, with a 10 percent decrease in accidents. The Association of Drivers Against Daytime Running Lights argues that drivers in the United States don't suffer from "deficient lighting conditions" like in other countries, and therefore, DRLs should not be used. They make a series of increasingly desperate arguments against the lights, never proving them harmful but seeing them as merely ineffective. Surely, if they save one life, you can live with them? HowStuffWorks claims that 406 million gallons extra would be burned in the United States alone if every car there had DRLs. The DADRL would say that therefore, we should forgo own own safety in favour of a few gallons each per year, and the resulting reduction in pollution.

Sources: - the DADRL website - fitters of DRLs in Australia - how much fuel do the lights burn?

The issue I would like to address hasn't been brought up yet and I wonder how many other vehicles are like this.

My 1997 Pontiac Grand Am has daytime running lights. I do agree that daytime running lights indeed make you more noticeable on the roads and can reduce accidents. I would like to see more statistical data on how many lives it has saved. I was able to come up with this figure, though: According to a report released by the European Commission, daytime running lights could save 1,000 to 3,000 lives each year. But, yes, this does not say how many have actually been saved.

But the main point of my contribution is to talk about something I always found a tad silly about the daytime running lights on my Grand Am. They are not any more or less brighter than the lights. I have studied the car at length with the lights on or off and I have concluded that there is absolutely no difference. So I never turn the lights on. Why even bother making regular lights and daytime running lights on a car if the two are no different than one another? Just take the knob to turn the lights on off of the dashboard if you are going to do that. The only conceivable purpose I can see is if you would want to leave the lights on the car when it's turned off, maybe to shine it into the woods for snipe hunting adventures.

But I'm not really complaining. It's kind of a convenience. I never have to bother with turning the lights on or off. Well, it was an inconvenience once when I was going through a little Christmas light show. I had to put my emergency brake slightly on while going through because they required that all headlights be off; that seemed to be the only thing to turn them off. And I really don't like driving with my emergency brake on, even a little bit.

I have gotten some questions on this: yes, I can still switch the high beams on without the regular headlights turned on. I came from and drive a lot in the sticks. Trust me I use them a lot. Another reason why the actual headlights on the 97 Grand Am are completely useless.


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